A New-Found Sense of Empowerment

If you are a regular reader of mine then you will know that I am a MASSIVE fan of Ted Talks. So, when I heard that an evening of Ted Talks were being held at my Uni you know that ya girl was all over it! I bought tickets not even knowing what the theme was- I just wanted to be a part of it.

When I got there I found out that the theme was Empowerment. What is Empowerment? How does one find Empowerment? Does Empowerment come from within, or is it something we give to each other? How do we Empower women, minority races, disabled people, etc.? These were the main topics discussed throughout the evening.

A lady called Oloni did a talk about Empowering women, especially in the workplace, and gave a fantastic story about how she got a job at Cosmopolitan despite the odds.

WOW. I walked out of that room a changed woman.

Before then, I had been applying to mediocre summer jobs that I knew I would get. But after the talk, I started applying to places that I never ever thought I would get even an interview for. I thought to myself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen? They say no’.

Anyways, only three days after the Ted Talk, I landed myself a job! I am going to be a PR and Marketing intern!

What is the message of this short post? Simply, do not let your insecurities or doubts get in the way of your dreams. Apply for the job, ask the guy out, do the karaoke. You are the only thing in the way of yourself! Truly, what is the worst that can happen? This is a message I hope to take forward for the rest of my life and apply it to new situations and scenarios, and I hope you guys do too.

What things have you guys achieved recently because you didn’t let your fear stop you? I’d love to hear!

Love from Evie x

Testing Mindfulness Apps to Help My Anxiety – Spilling the Anxie-Tea

Calm:
Calm is an app I have heard about here and there. They often have ads on Facebook that pop up here and there. When you first open the app, you are met with this screen:

I liked this touch as it is simple yet immediately forces you to take a second to calm down. The blue colours they use are rather soothing, like water. On the home page, you are straight away greeted with various calming noises and a nice moving background. You can choose different sounds and backgrounds for example the sea, rain, a lake etc. I like the wide variety of choice you receive.

Calm has sweet little stories to help you sleep, one of them is read by Stephen Fry which I thought was a nice touch as he has a soft and familiar voice and is a mental health activist. They also have short audios that guide mindfulness and meditation which people may find helpful

Something I also noticed about Calm and I thought was a nice touch is that it hides your phone’s time and battery level. I felt this helped as you can really immerse yourself in the relaxation and not get distracted by how long you have been on the app.
A downside of Calm is that the audio and stories are rather limited, and if you want to get access to more you have to upgrade which costs £42.99 per year, which is quite dear.

Headspace:
The next app I tried was Headspace. Headspace have a lot of adverts on Youtube aimed at me so it was pretty unavoidable. Headspace is very similar to Calm as it has many audio guides for meditation and relaxation, as well as podcasts to aid sleep.

A feature of Headspace I really like is that you can allow them to send you up to 5 “mindfulness moments” a day, which are basically just notifications on your phone that say stuff like “It is not enough to merely think about our potential. We need to discover it, to live it, to make it a reality.” and other fortune-cookie-type proverbs. I like these as although they are a little cheesy, they do make you think and perhaps even ground you when feeling stressed.
Again, like Calm, Headspace offers more audio guides and features to paying customers. However, the price for Headspace is even more than Calm, and I am not 100% what exactly it is they offer. The most expensive one coming in at £400!

Breathe:
The final app I downloaded was Breathe, and I have to say it was my favourite. I had never seen Breathe being advertised at all but it was recommended to me when I downloaded the other two so I gave it a go. When you open Breathe, you are immediately met with the option to dim the screen for 10 seconds to help relax. I really like this touch

It then asks you a series of questions about how you are feeling emotionally and physically, before asking for you to select up to 5 emotions

Finally, based on your choices it offers you various audio guides that they believe will make you feel happier and more mindful

I really like this feature as it feels more personal and is catered to your needs at that time. There are a great deal of audio guides, even if they are short. You can pay for more content and more features if you so wish. Breathe claim to also donate 10% of their earnings to help less privileged kids learn mindfulness practice, which is admirable

I feel like all of these apps have some key benefits and when all three of them are downloaded there are a plethora of different features and methods to help you. Although I personally enjoy Breathe the most for the personalisation aspects, I still will use Calm’s bedtime stories and Headspace’s mindfulness moments to help manage my Anxiety disorder. I hope this article helped some of you guys to use apps as a new way of coping with Anxiety. It is so easy and practical to use for a quick pick-me-up.

My Bedtime Routine – GRWM for bed!

I have received the odd message here and there from you guys asking about my bedtime and morning routine, so I thought I would have a go at writing the former here. This routine is the one that I do every night (when I have time). I have suffered from insomnia in the past due to my anxiety, however I find that when I complete every step of my routine, I generally have a good night’s sleep.

  1. Wipe off my makeup, and use an exfoliater, cleanser and face mask. My skin is super oily and acne-prone so I do adhere to a strict facial routine. You can see what cleanser and face mask I use here. Always apply these products in that order for maximum results!
  2. While the face mask is drying, now is the time I make my hot water bottle. This is specifically a winter routine, but I find that boiling the kettle and filling my water bottle and putting it under my duvet (to warm up the bed for me!!) is the perfect amount of time to leave my facemask on!
  3. Bio-oil, and moisturiser. Bio-Oil is a fairly new addition to my routine, but it is one I now can not go without. I am desperately trying to get rid of my acne marks so I can feel more confident not wearing makeup. I find that not only does it leave my skin gradually looking clearer, but it also has made my skin soooo soft and smooth! It also doesn’t clog my pores or cause breakouts, which is always the worry when something is advertised as an “oil”. Always remember to put moisturiser on as well to keep your skin healthy! Click the picture below to purchase Bio-Oil from Amazon at the lowest price I can find:

60ml Bio-Oil, £9.65

4. Now is the time I brush my hair to ensure that all knots are out and all dead hairs come out. And then, I put my hair into two Dutch plaits. The reason I plait my hair every night is that it makes it lovely and wavey in the morning, plus it stops your hair from knotting or getting in your way when you sleep. Below is a video of how to do a Dutch plait:

 

5. Now is the time that I practise yoga. Again, this is a fairly new addition to my routine, but I find it massively helps get me in the mood for sleeping, and to let go of all the stresses of the day. I generally do around 10-20 minutes of very chilled and easy yoga A video I often follow is below:

6. Make sure you brush your teeth and take any tablets you need to! I always take any daily tablets I need just before bed as I find it is the best time to remember them. I always keep my tablets on my bedside table. Now is the time that I turn off my main light and just have a lamp with a warm glow or perhaps a scented candle by my bed. I read, or I switch my phone to night mode and put the brightness all the way down.

I hope you guys like my bedtime routine and take some steps from this! I know it is a long routine but I just find pleasure in slowly ticking every step off of my list and carving out this time in the day for a little me time.

Let me know down below what your bedtime routines are like and what you guys do to relax before sleeping!

Love from Evie x

It goes Pom and Pom and Pom…

Just a random little post for you guys today but I wanted to share with you my new hobby: making pom poms!

One of my close friends was going through a bit of a hard time. She’s super girly and loves anything pink and fluffy so I had a sudden brain wave and thought it would be cute to make her a pom pom garland. I don’t really know where the idea came from,  but I am glad I had it as I have found a real joy in making these cute bundles of yarn!

I popped down to my local hobbycraft, and having never bought wool before I was pleasantly surprised with how cheap it is! Hobbycraft were doing a deal so I grabbed 4 colours: pink, yellow, blue and white. Classic cute colours. I got to work making my friend’s garland and had a nice time in doing so! The result came out like this:

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I had such a good time making those that ever since then I have not been able to stop! I have made so many pom poms in a variety of colours and sizes that I decided to start selling them for cheap on depop, so that I could fund to buy more wool and make even more! If you are interested, then why not check out my store (I am taking commissions!): https://www.depop.com/eviejrichards/

I enjoy making pom poms as it is a cute and relaxing task. I like the repetition of it and the outcome of lovely pom poms at the end! I have started making them while listening to my audiobooks for class, and it is a nice way to have some me time.

 

I think the point of this little post was to remind you guys (as well as myself) that it is important to try new things, as you will never know if something makes you happy. Be it a new hobby, food, or even a new podcast! I think I am going to challenge myself to broaden my horizons and try new things, and I think you should too!

I’d adore to know in the comments below what new hobbies you guys have stumbled across, and if you have any arts&crafts ideas for me!

Lots of love, Evie x

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The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam -Unsolved Mystery

Note that the following content may not be suitable for all readers. Also, I mean no disrespect to the victim or her family.

I see this blog as a physical manifestation of my mind, and so I have to be honest and say that although my mind is full of baking recipes and Jane Austen, there is also a part of it that has a morbid curiosity to unsolved mysteries. I have decided to share with you one of the first mysteries I ever learned about, and if this post does well then I will make it into a bit of a series and regularly post cases! I chose this case as it is not too scary or creepy, however let me know down below if you would rather some cases like that. This is the story of the mysterious death of Elisa Lam.

On the 19th February 2013, the Cecil Hotel staff received a number of complaints that the water from their sinks or showers was not flowing, or when it did it was dark and tasted bad. The maintenance workers went up to the water tank on the roof to identify the cause of the problem, when they found the body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam. Elisa was a Canadian student on a trip to Los Angeles by herself. She had actually been reported missing at the start of the month, but no one suspected that she would endear the fate that she did.

There are many suspicious elements to the Elisa Lam case which suggest that this was not a cut-and-dry suicide, and why it is still under investigation 6 years on. The first reason is because no one can work out how Elisa got into the water tank in the first place. To get up to the roof where the tanks are would mean accessing fire doors which could only be opened using a staff key, but no staff keys were found around Elisa or anywhere on the roof, and none were reported missing. Elisa could not have opened the door herself without an alarm being sounded. Additionally, the tank itself is 2.4m high, and has an extremely heavy lid. The maintenance workers had to use ladders to get up to the tank and more than one of them had to help open the tank- there is no way a small 21-year-old woman is going to be able to do that herself. Her clothes were found outside the tank, along with her watch and room keys. Elisa’s phone that she used regularly was never found. There were no signs of drugs, a lot of alcohol or any sexual contact with Elisa.

The reason why this case blew up and became so widely talked about is because the police released a rather bizarre security video, which is the last known footage of Elisa. In the video, which I will link to below, Elisa appears to be hiding and then talking to an unseen person outside of a lift. It is widely agreed that Elisa was not acting “normally”, as she looks distressed and is walking in and out the lift and pressing all the buttons. People blame her Bipolar Disorder on this behaviour, yet psychologists claim that these actions would not be caused by that disorder, and her family agreed that she did not ever act like that in the past. As I have stated before, no drugs and very little alcohol was found in her system, so these would not have been the cause for the behaviour either.

The actual cause of Elisa Lam’s death is drowning, but the autopsy report has marked the reason (ie suicide, homicide, natural, etc) as ‘Undetermined’. Was Elisa murdered? Was she suffering from a mental disorder that caused her to go into the tank? How did she even get into the tank with no assistance? I would love to hear what you guys think below, and if you would like for me to continue sharing some unsolved mysteries with you.

From Evie

How Not To Revise for an Exam

If there is one thing in life I hate more than bratty middle-class children and Snapchat streaks, it’s exams. Before I get into this blog post I have to warn you that if you are reading this the night before your exam in the hopes of getting some nuggets of gold to help you in the big test tomorrow then this post isn’t for you. This post is a warning to people like me of what not to do when preparing for an exam, most of which was learnt through real-life personal experience.

  1. Do not cram in all of your revision in the last minute. If this sounds obvious to you then I can hazard a guess you have never struggled with procrastination. I believe procrastination is a real thing that does truly need to be looked into. I believe it is not a sign of someone being lazy, rather a bizarre manifestation of anxiety and fear. “If I don’t revise yet, then there is no exam” it feels like. The issue is, I procrastinate with productive things, to trick myself into thinking I am not wasting time. I will apply for jobs, write a blog post or two, perhaps go to the gym. All I am saying from past experience is recognise this behaviour and pleaaase start revising weeks before your exam. Even 30 minutes a day for a few weeks leading up to the exam will help! Do not pull an all nighter right before the exam!
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Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

2. Don’t just skip over things you don’t understand and hope they will not be in the exam. Yes, if I am honest with myself I am very guilty of this. If I don’t understand something I more or less shrug and move on to something I feel more comfortable with. But the time leading up to the exam is the time to email your tutors, do research or even ask a classmate!

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3. Do not have the first time you write a whole exam paper be when you actually do the exam. … I can see I lost some of you there, but this is a legit thing. Myself and other people I know do not even so much as glance at a practise paper let alone write them out and check the answers. Genuinely, doing this makes such a massive difference as you can see where your weaknesses are. You can also work on time management better! Also, as an English student who had to write 3 essays in 3 hours in her exam the other day, it helps to practise writing with a pen for prolonged periods of time. It’s like training for a marathon- you can’t just jump right in, you gotta train.

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4. Do not make revision a chore and punish yourself. I know it is counter-intuitive but getting into a new TV show or Youtube channel actually massively helps me to revise. So what I do is reward myself with an episode every time I do an hour of work, or when I finish a chapter, or when I finish a practise paper. 20 minute shows like the IT Crowd or Friends works better than those shows with an hour long episode as you get a break and reward but you still get plenty of time to study. This may not work for everyone as you have to have some self control and I know how tempting it is to watch another episode, especially when Netflix plays it automatically after 10 seconds.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

5. Don’t worry too much because it is not like these exam marks will be with you all of your life for people to judge you on and will define what kind of future you will be able to provide for your unborn children… Hmm, actually don’t listen to me. It’ll be fine in the end. Probably.

 

Good luck and let me know down below what exam tips and experiences you’ve had!

Lots of love, Evie x

On being a Literature Student with Dyslexia

One of my teachers sheepishly approached me in class and asked if I would stay behind for a few minutes after. I, of course, suddenly started imagining the worst possible reasons why. Was I failing the class? Was I going to be kicked out of Sixth Form? Did my entire family perish in a terrible fire while I was at school but she wanted me to focus on completing the textbook tasks before I was told their fate? The bell rang. “Remember to finish the work on page 22 for next class- I will be checking!” my teacher called to her class, who were hurriedly rushing to their lunch. My teacher then looked at me, “Gosh, you don’t have to look so nervous. Basically, a few of your teachers have suspected that you may be Dyslexic, and so we are calling in an Educational Psychologist to screen you next week. Do you mind if I keep a hold of your writing book for evidence?”

I can’t remember the Educational Psychologist’s name but she was nice and spoke very slowly. She told me not to worry and that we just have a few simple exercises to do. I had 20 minutes to write about what ever I wanted, just as long as I kept writing. I believe they wanted to test my sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and speed of writing. I then was given a series of letters and was asked to read them aloud as quickly as I could, followed by a series of words, followed by a series of numbers. I then had to go onto a computer and each screen had around 15 alternate spellings for the same word, I then had to quickly click the correct spelling before the screen moved on and showed me 15 more alternate spellings for another word. I was given some example sentences and asked to identify what was wrong with them, or if there was anything wrong at all. This all felt a little silly, considering I was 17, however the results came back that I was in fact Dyslexic and that I would receive 25% extra time in my exams.

There is a whole spectrum of Dyslexia and fortunately mine is rather mild, which is why it took me 17 years before I learnt I had a problem. I was told that my form of Dyslexia was less to do with spelling and grammar, as is most common, rather to do with information processing. They said, for example, most people would be asked a question and instinctively answer it “A-B-C”, whereas I would answer it more like “A-M-X-J-E”. I would show strong knowledge, but it was not immediately as obvious to me as other people what I am being asked to answer. I was told that people with Dyslexia, especially my kind, tended to be creative and think outside of the box more. However, they can struggle with higher education as mark schemes are rigid and favour conventional answers over creative ones. This is why I was awarded extra time, as it meant I could think more about what the question is asking of me, and how they were asking me to answer.

I was rather nervous starting an English Literature degree giving that I knew I had a learning difficulty typically related to Literature as a subject, and I was not even fully aware of how my Dyslexia impacted me. It is simple enough being told “you have something that makes your thought pattern different to normal people”, but what did this mean? I could not identify it in myself, I could not see when I was thinking differently to others, if that makes sense. I genuinely believe when I am writing an essay that this is what they want me to write about. It can be very difficult.

I notice it in class when we are asked to share our ideas about a text and my answer varies a great deal from other people’s. I notice it in personal life when my friends joke I always misunderstand things. I noticed it in work when it took me a little longer than everyone else to learn the complicated order on how to do tasks, when another method seemed to make more sense to me. The older I get, the more I notice that I approach things differently to other people. Some things that are instinctual to others I have to learn, because I am unlearning the way that is instinctual to me.

On the plus side, I do tend to get marked highly for creativity and thinking outside the box in my coursework. I have been awarded extra days on all of my deadlines to complete my work which gives me more time to really develop my ideas. I do feel anxious as I have an important exam next week, and I know the mark schemes are more rigid than with coursework, and so I will try hard to truly use my extra time wisely and think about how a normal person would answer this.

People find it ironic that I am an English Literature student and I run a blog even though I have a learning difficulty which says I should do otherwise. Some days I agree and question why I make life hard for myself. However, most days, I just give them a smile and explain that in a way Dyslexia is a gift. I cherish creativity and I wouldn’t  have it any other way.

Let me know in the comments below if you have Dyslexia or any other learning difficulty. I would love to find out your tips for coping as I am always willing to learn. Also let me know if you would like me to do a little guide of things I do to help my Dyslexia!

Love from Evie x